Goals shares suspended but Sports Direct still in market for a bargain basement buy  

September 30 – Goals, the operator of small-sided football facilities in the UK that has expanded into the US, has had its share listing on AIM market in London suspended.

Goals has been labouring under a tax enquiry which has seen the business have to re-audit its 2016, 2017, and 2018 balance sheets following a potential under-declaration of sales tax (VAT) that is reckoned to be at least £12 million.

The final sum owed to UK tax authorities is still to be determined and in a statement said it is “not able to quantify with any certainty the impact of the misdeclaration of VAT on its financial position, or establish a firm timetable in which it will be able to quantify and agree the misdeclaration with HMRC.”

The company blames the tax issue on the “improper behaviour on the part of a small number of individuals historically within the Company”.

In August, when the scale of the tax problem began to become clear, the company was put up for sale and earlier this month it announced it had received a preliminary “and highly caveated” possible cash offer from Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International at 5 pence per share. They say the suspension of the company’s shares will not affect the sale to Sports Direct or any other suitor.

Sports Direct already owns 19% of Goals’ stock. The share price at 6.15am on September 20 was 27.2p.

Goals operates 49 sites, including four in California, USA, with more than 700 staff employed. The sites feature floodlit 5-a-side and 7-a-side pitches and using synthetic grass turf, ProTurf and a clubhouse with changing facilities and a sports bar.

In the six months to end June 2018 the company reported revenue of £16.2 million and an operating loss of £600,000. Its debt stood at £30.2 million with its assets capitalised in the balance sheet at £97.2 million. The VAT investigation will potentially alter those revenue figures if the sales tax has been treated as income.

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